Hectic schedules, painful injuries, the rush of competition, and friendships that last a lifetime.
Eleven former collegiate athletes recently shared their memories — the good and the bad — with The Huffington Post.
The resulting story? A compilation charting the range of experiences college-bound athletes may encounter once they arrive on campus. Interviewees talked about their schedules, the difference between varsity and club sports, and the lessons they learned along the way.
Thousands of students compete in college sports each year, with many teens researching athletic programs as part of their college search and selection process. While some of those interviewed said athletics helped keep them on track in the classroom, others reported feeling overwhelmed by the physical and academic demands they faced in college.
“(T)he question must be asked: Are college sports worth it for student-athletes who have no hope of going pro,” Huffington Post editor Justin Block writes in his introduction. “The answer depends on the individual.”
Here’s a sampling of some of the responses his query elicited:
“Ultimately, playing reserve was the best of both worlds. I got to play soccer at a high level, but not being required to travel meant I could pursue a double major and work on the school newspaper.” — Kim Bellware, soccer at Valparaiso University (IN)
“Once I got out of school and started working and paying my own expenses, I realized how incredible it is to graduate debt-free.” — Carly Ledbetter, volleyball at Elon University (NC)
“For me, it really eliminated the need to do any fraternities or rushing or go out and drink. I was so focused on basketball that I think it really helped me from an academic standpoint.” — Jordan Schultz, basketball at Temple University (PA) and Occidental College (CA)
“To be honest, the weight training shocked me a little. They not only had me lifting more than others to put some more muscle on me, but they also put me on the ‘football meal plan,’ giving me multiple meals a day. I gained 20 pounds in three months.” — Julian McWilliams, baseball at Ohio University
“After I stopped playing, my grades got better, I threw myself into my studies, I did a lot of community service.” — Sumorwuo Zaza, football at Harvard University (MA)
“I never expected to go pro in squash (I was around No. 12 of 14 players on the team most years), but I had an awesome time playing and made a lot of friends through the team.” — Hollis Miller, squash at Williams College (MA)
Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.